I received my BA in Biology from Skidmore College in 1999 and worked as a conservation biologist specializing in butterflies and habitat protection for The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and The Nature Conservancy. I went on to work as an educator and ecotourism guide in Central America and Fiji with Blue Academy, a company I co-founded, while also teaching at Monte del Sol in Santa Fe, NM.
I later moved to Denver where I attained a Master in Public Administration (MPA) with a focus in Environmental Policy, Management, and Law at the University of Colorado Denver (UCD) while working as a policy researcher at the university’s Wirth Chair in Sustainable Development Policy. In 2007 I was awarded a National Science Foundation IGERT grant to pursue my PhD at UCD’s School of Public Affairs through the interdisciplinary Sustainable Urban Infrastructure program. During these years I worked on teams completing some of the first greenhouse gas inventories and climate action plans for local governments in Colorado and, as an adjunct instructor, I taught classes in the MPA program. My dissertation was entitled An Examination of Policy and Political Learning: A Study of Colorado Climate and Energy Policy Actors.
In addition to my academic work, in 2009 I was a Fellow in the Denver Community Leadership Forum, a leadership development program focused on community engagement, conflict management, and collaborative governance, as well as the Colorado State Political Leaders Fellowship, the Center for Progressive Leadership’s program focused on values-based messaging, fundraising and media training, and campaign planning. I worked on dozens of political campaigns in CO over the years and served on the Board of Directors for two non-profit organizations: New Era Colorado, an organization dedicated to fostering political awareness and activity among young adults in Colorado; and Colorado Conservation Voters, an organization that works to educate the public about the environmental policy-related positions of candidates and elected officials and to hold elected officials accountable for their environmental records.
In 2010 & 2011 I was the Sustainability Director for the Auraria Higher Education Center where I directed greenhouse gas inventory work, climate action planning, and other sustainability projects on the 50,000-person Auraria Campus in downtown Denver. Also in 2010, I was appointed by then Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to the Pollution Prevention Advisory Board, which provides overall policy guidance, coordination, and advice to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. In late 2011 I moved to Santa Barbara where I worked as a Senior Planner on the Sustainability and Climate Change team for Pacific Municipal Consultants leading greenhouse gas inventories and climate action planning projects for local governments clients before leaving to launch my own consulting company. I have worked with dozens of local governments, private companies, nonprofits, and educational institutions on climate action and sustainability planning as well as energy conservation strategies.
From 2013 to 2016 I was a visiting faculty member of the Department of Policy Studies at California Lutheran University. I taught classes in the Master in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) program. In 2014 I graduated from the Ventura County Leadership Academy (VCLA), a county-centered leadership development program focused on critical issues in the region related to education, public safety, economic development, healthcare, agriculture, the environment, transportation, as well as state and local government. In June 2014 I was appointed by the Ventura City Council to serve on the Board of Commissioners for the Housing Authority of the City of Ventura. The City’s Housing Authority is dedicated to providing and maintaining affordable housing for city residents.
My wife Chandra Russo and I both joined the faculty at Colgate University in 2016. I was the Burke Endowed Chair in Regional Studies (2016-2017) and am currently an Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies.
When I am not working, I enjoy fly fishing, hiking & backpacking, SCUBA diving, birding, and being outdoors and near water in general.